SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Michiko Suzuki

MA Japanese Studies (SOAS), MA Historical Research Methods (SOAS)
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Michiko Suzuki
Ms Michiko Suzuki
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Thesis title:
History of Disaster, Recovery, and Humanitarianism: The Japanese Red Cross Society in the Modern World, 1877-1945
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

This project explores the wartime humanitarian relief activities of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) personnel, and their involvement in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement between 1877 and 1945 in a global historical context. Most historiographies of the Red Cross have been dominated by a West-centred narrative of humanitarianism. However, an epistemological framework of Japanese humanitarian activities was temporally and spatially far beyond our traditional historical discourse since its institutional foundation. Indeed, the society itself was at a crossroads, and individual aid workers acted behind the scenes without boundary even in the wartime years such as World War II.

In order to add to the historiography of modern humanitarian patriotism, the Japanese Empire and World War II narratives, this study of neo-humanitarianism seeks to re-interpret some of the landscape of wartime mobilisation surrounding the JRCS. Although there are a large number of wartime historiographies, operations of aid workers have generally become lost to the historical narrative. Therefore, this project re-explores wartime history through the lens of ‘humanitarianism’ with the aim being to recover the voices of aid givers, and to throw light on the history of the great silence of humanity.

This research will unveil a number of thus far untold stories such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings emergency responses. They may allow scholars of Japan, and perhaps the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement itself, to better understand the extent to which the institution’s relief activities were, and were not, in accord with its professional duties and humanitarian missions.


Journal Articles

  • Suzuki, Michiko (2017) 'History of the Japanese Red Cross Society Nuclear Bombing Emergency Humanitarian Relief Activities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945 / 日本赤十字社の原爆緊急人道支援の歴史について.' In: Japanese Red Cross Institute for Humanitarian Studies. (ed). The Journal of Humanitarian Studies. Vol. 6. Tokyo: Toshindo. pp.200-220.


  • Consortium for Asian and African Studies (CAAS) Unit Workshop, Institute of Japan Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies - Tokyo, Japan (December 2017).
  • Workshop on Nuclear Emergency Response and Preparedness, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) - Geneva, Switzerland (November 2017).
  • Public Symposium on Nuclear Weapons: Response or Prevention?, Geneva Disarmament Platform, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) & International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum - Geneva, Switzerland (November 2017).
  • Sasakawa Studentship Alumni Event, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation - London, UK (November 2017).
  • Gender(ed) Histories of Korea and Japan: 3rd Workshop of the European Forum on Korean-Japanese History, The University of Tübingen - Tübingen, Germany (September 2017).
  • International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on the Prohibition and Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) & International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Nagasaki, Japan (April 2017).
  • 26th Annual Graduate Student Conference on East Asia, Columbia University in the City of New York - New York, US (February 2017).
  • Joint East Asian Studies Conference (JEAS) 2016, SOAS, University of London - London, UK (September 2016).
  • Humanitarian History Workshop, Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) - Tokyo, Japan (August 2016).
  • Japan History Group (JHG) Workshop, the Institute of Social Science (ISS), The University of Tokyo - Tokyo, Japan (November 2015).


  • International Center for Japanese Studies (ICJS) - Tokyo University of Foreign Studies: Special Research Fellow (2017 - )
  • Japan History Group (JHG), The Institute of Social Science (ISS) - The University of Tokyo
  • Waseda University: Research Fellow (2015 - 2016)
  • Japan Research Centre (JRC) - SOAS, University of London
  • British Association of Japanese Studies (BAJS)
  • Red Cross Information Plaza - Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS)


  • H120 Introduction to the History of East Asia (tutorials)


  • Global History
  • Transnational History
  • Humanitarianism
  • International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
  • Modern and Contemporary Japanese History
  • Nuclear Warfare Relief Activities (Hiroshima & Nagasaki)